Bahubali - The Conclusion: SS Rajamouli's grand sequel to be bigger and better than its predecessor
The inside dope on Bahubali - The Conclusion is that the sequel to one of Indian cinema's biggest hits is bigger and more grand. The scenes leading to the intermission and the climax of the SS Rajamouli film are being spoken of as "phenomenally brilliant in terms of scale and technical finesse''.
The expectation of an even more lavish spectacle has reflected in the price at which the sequel has been sold by the production house, Arka Mediaworks. The first part, Bahubali - The Beginning in Telugu was sold for around Rs 25 crore in the Nizam's territory (Telangana). It did business worth Rs 48 crore. That became the benchmark for the amount fixed for Bahubali 2. It was pegged at Rs 50 crore and was picked up by producer Suresh Babu's company, Asian Cinemas. Interestingly, Suresh Babu is the father of actor Rana Daggubati who plays the pivotal role of Bhallala Deva, the antagonist in Bahubali.
Elsewhere too, the movie has sold for spectacular amounts. The Tamil version which had sold for Rs 14 crore for the first part, now went for Rs 35 crore. The satellite rights for Bahubali were sold for Rs 18 crore but the sequel went for Rs 50 crore.
The focus now is on how to ring in profits given that the film has sold for such astronomical amounts. "It is a product with a lot of hype but the film is definitely better than the first part. Given the interest factor, the initial is expected to be phenomenal. Everyone will want to watch the movie on the first weekend. There will most likely be a hike in ticketing price to bring in more revenue,'' says Suresh Babu.
Experts who understand the film business believe that Bahubali 2'will get in all the audience that lapped up the first part and also new viewers who did not see it the first time. They also believe that distributors who paid a high price for an unknown product in 2014, have now consciously paid a higher price now for a known product. The belief therefore is that it is unlikely that they will lose money even though the margins of profits may not be as spectacular as last time.
The last Indian movie that saw an aggressive marketing splash was Rajinikanth's Kabali in July. The superstar's movie also saw even Air Asia painting one of their aircraft with Kabali posters and a special flight was chartered with fans from Bengaluru to Chennai to catch the first day first show in Rajinikanth's city.
The expectation is that in the run-up to the film's release on 28 April next year, the distributors and producers would unveil a Bahubali festival. The plan is to exploit the craze for "I saw it first" bragging rights and sign up exclusive merchandise deals. Those associated with how the marketing will pan out say just like a new product like the Indian Premier League was unleashed in 2008, Bahubali 2 will piggyback on the audience appetite for a larger than life spectacle.
For the first time perhaps, a movie is not being seen as restricted to a particular language. Even a Rajinikanth movie, though dubbed in Hindi and Telugu, is seen essentially as a Tamil product, rooted in that ethos. Bahubali, even though originating from the Hyderabad stable, has managed to transcend all boundaries and is now seen as a national product. It became the first south Indian film to cross the Rs 100 crore mark in the dubbed Hindi version. The first part made at Rs 120 crore grossed close to Rs 650 crore. The sequel is believed to have been produced at a cost of Rs 200 crore.
Other films are piggybacking on Bahubali 2 to negotiate better deals now. For instance, Karan Johar who is presenting the Hindi version, is reportedly using the fact that he holds the key to Bahubali 2 to get as many premium screens for his Ae Dil Hai Mushkil that is clashing over the Diwali weekend with Ajay Devgn's Shivaay.
Similarly, Rana Daggubati's 1971 war film Ghazi will release on 24 February, with an intention to ride the hype that will already start building up for Bahubali 2. Even otherwise, in the present atmosphere between India and Pakistan, a film that celebrates the victory of the armed forces and chopping off of Pakistan, will find many takers in the theatres. This Hindi-Telugu bilingual also stars Taapsee Pannu of Pink fame.
Such is the confidence among the filmmakers about the product that they are releasing it on a normal weekend instead of a festival weekend. Rajamouli obviously believes that the audience is not looking for a special day to find out why Kattappa killed Bahubali.